To a certain extent, Primo’s mission to put Chilean trap on vinyl is a matter of respect. “There is still prejudice towards reggaeton, trap, and other Latin sounds,” says Daniel Ortiz, executive producer of Santiago’s Primo vinyl series. “The public and local press don’t realize that this movement has transformed into the new paradigm of Chilean pop.”
Members of Santiago’s growing trap scene want to see the genre be taken seriously, and they should. The beat coming from Chilean trap has gotten louder and louder over the past few years, with breakout stars including Gianluca, Paloma Mami, Princess Alba, and Dref Killa. Those names are from the newer guard, but artists like Zonora Point, Lizz, Nación Trizzy, and producer Paul Marmota have been toying with trap beats for years. And yet, it’s hard to find a physical copy of any of these artists’ work. There are a couple exceptions to that rule, including some self-released CDrs and Zonora Point’s 2013 album 24/7, which Chilean cable Mutante Discos released. On an international level, you have NAAFI’s releases of Jamez Manuel (2012’s Agua Remixes) and Paul Marmota (2013’s Nueva) — if you count their mutant urbano collage as trap albums — and Spanish label La Vendición’s cassette release of Marmota’s 2018 dark freak reggaeton masterpiece Zona.
For his part, Ortiz recognized that more of the genre’s stars deserved their own posterity. In true DIY style, he started the Primo project, intent on putting out four “7 vinyl splits, with a local trap single on each record side, over the course of 2019.
He gathered a team made of individuals working in the local creative industries, and in particular with trap artists. His primary collaborators include Igor Alfaro a.k.a. DJ Baby Killah, a promoter whose parties in Santiago’s Barrio Bellavista have featured artists like Vandal Boogie and Gianluca. Visual artist Violeta Cereceda had done single art for Santiago musicians previously, and now lends a distinct aesthetic to the series. DJ David “El Buga” Bugueño, handles press. Primo has also worked with local music platforms like Not.Not and Pousta to promote its projects, which apart from the vinyl releases have included live sets recorded in collaboration with Sintética, featuring local traperos Young Cister and the superlative Catana in the Santiago record store Needle.
“We are part of a digital era in which the channels of diffusion of the current local urban scene are social media,” says Alfaro, who now handles Primo’s A&R. “The publication of albums has become exclusively digital. I felt that the music these artists are putting out should have a physical registry that took into account what has been going on during these last few years.”
The latest release from the series, which is edition three, is above all a tribute to one of the Santiago scene’s fallen greats. Kevin Martes 13 died in January 2018 when his car collided with a bus during a police chase. The trap artist was only 17 years old. “After his death, he stayed important,” says Alfaro. “He had a very particular flow, a level of punchline that very few artists arrive at. He’s still alive in the hearts of the people who follow urban music. He’s loved.” The collective worked with Martes’ label Desafío Records. The new release’s “A” side is the romantic “Su Corte,” one of Martes’ strongest solo tracks. For the “B” side, they picked a Martes collaboration with Santiago trap heavyweight Pablo Chill-E, the “local hymn” — in Alfaro’s words — that is “Shishigang.”
Primo plans to release the fourth and final release in the series in mid-October. One hopes that the excitement it generates will ensure that Chilean trap continues to take shape beyond the instant gratification ether of today’s internet distribution culture. These beats deserve all the spins they get.
Order Primo’s third vinyl release featuring Desafío Records’ Kevin Martes 13 and Pablo Chill-E here.